What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that your body needs to build healthy cells. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs so any additional cholesterol in your body comes from foods from animals (examples: meat, poultry, and full-fat dairy products). The fat in these animal product foods causes your body to create more cholesterol than it needs which leads to high cholesterol.

There are two types of cholesterol: good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL). LDL contributes to blockages and fatty buildups in the arteries. HDL works to carry the LDL away from the arteries.

Triglycerides are also used to measure health. Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in the body. High triglycerides combined with high LDL can lead to blockages in your arteries which can result in a heart attack or stroke.

Total cholesterol is the sum of your HDL, LDL, and 20% of your triglyceride level.

What is high cholesterol?

High cholesterol is when there is an increased amount of cholesterol in the blood. This may include higher amounts of LDL or lower amounts of HDL.

What is the impact of high cholesterol?

Higher levels of LDL cholesterol and lower levels of HDL are linked to increased risk of heart disease. Cholesterol can contribute to plaque in your arteries. The plaque can result in a heart attack or stroke.

Managing Cholesterol Levels

Having healthy good cholesterol (HDL) levels may decrease your risk of heart attack and stroke. To increase HDL levels, you should exercise regularly. Additionally, eating a heart healthy diet will decrease bad cholesterol (LDL) levels.

It is important to follow the 3 C’s:

       Check your cholesterol levels.

       Change your diet and lifestyle to improve your levels.

       Control your cholesterol with help from your doctor.

Additional Resources

Last Updated 12/19/2022